Biographical / Historical
Janet Hosmer Richards was born in Granville, Ohio, in 1859. She attended the Eden Hall Academy of the Sacred Heart in Philadelphia. She moved to Washington, D.C., during the Civil War, and began writing one of the first newspaper columns on women’s club activities. Richards wrote articles and book reviews for the Washington Post, and was a well-known national lecturer on topics including history, literature, politics, and travel. Richards was particularly interested in and lectured frequently on the Passion Play in Oberammergua, Bavaria, which she attended a number of times from 1890 to 1910.
Richards was most keen on educating and lecturing to women. She was a women’s suffrage advocate acquainted with Susan B. Anthony; and was a delegate at the international suffrage conventions in Amsterdam (1908), Stockholm (1911), and Rome (1923). She was also a charter member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Notable political figures interviewed by Richards include Edvard Benes, Aristide Briand, Pascual Cervera, Benito Mussolini, as well as American presidents Calvin Coolidge, Theodore Roosevelt, and Herbert Hoover. Humanitarian relief work won Richards honors from the governments of Belgium, France, Italy, and Russia.
Family connections include the Reverend J. Havens Richards, president of Georgetown University (1888-1898). Richards’ father William was a graduate of Kenyon College and Yale University Law School. In addition to practicing law, William Richards was a journalist and speaker, and assisted in the organization of the Bureau of Internal Revenue. He was a cousin of Samuel P. Morse. Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase was cousin to Janet Richards’ mother Helen. Both parents were distantly related to each other through various branches of the family of General Nathanael Greene. Janet Richards was also the great granddaughter of General William Richards of the Revolutionary War.
Janet Richards died in 1948, and was buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Frederick, Maryland.